The Talking Cat
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rating: +9+x

The settlement of Abirtleit, Domain of Abirt, was of little interest to nearly all who came across it. It was a small fishing village roughly a day’s ride south of Kalefheit, mainly known for being a resting stop on the way to that grand trading hub. None of its inhabitants really benefited from its location, save for the relatively wealthy innkeeper, but they didn’t mind. Its poverty had saved it from attacks by bandits, and traveling merchants brought in enough food for trade to supplement their own subsistence farming and fishing. Abirt seemed to approve of His town’s obscure existence.

But for one particularly inquisitive calico, Abirtleit was just about the most fascinating sight she had ever seen.


“Nelea!”

The little girl jolted, quickly hiding the impromptu game she was playing with rocks and a stick.

“Food will be ready in an hour!” Her mom continued to yell. “All of our clothing better be washed by then, or you will not be getting any!”

Nelea sighed as she heard the door slam and picked up one of father’s shirts from the basket. Washing clothes was among her least favorite activities, but her parents were always serious when they threatened to withhold her meals.

After a few moments of scrubbing the shirt, she felt eyes upon her. Her heart skipped a beat when she looked up and saw a small cat on the opposite side of the river, but she did her best to ignore it and continue cleaning. Cats were very rare, and father had told her that they were easily startled and would run away if you tried to approach them.

This gambit succeeded until the cat began acting in a ways that a cat should not.

At first Nelea saw it fishing around in a sack next to the river, and paid it little mind. When, out of the corner of her eye, she next saw the cat appearing to throw something from inside the sack onto the river, she couldn’t help but look up. And her eyes widened in wonder as she saw some sort of “bridge” appear out of thin air above the water, which the cat then used to walk directly across and bypass the river entirely. She kept staring as the cat slowly made its way toward her, mouth agape.

“It’s rude to stare, young lady.”

Nelea almost jumped in the air. The cat had talked! That could only mean one thing. She hastily threw the clothes aside and placed her right hand over her chest, eyes fixed to the ground.

“‘O mighty Abirt, this humble servant thanks you for blessing her with Your presence,’” she carefully recited the phrase mother had taught her, hoping the powerful god would not demand any further utterances of her.

She wasn’t sure what would happen next, but about the last thing she was expecting was for Abirt to laugh. And yet He did, heartily and for quite some time.

“Oh my! I have been called many things, but a god…that’s a first. I can assure you I am not Abirt.”

Nelea looked up, her face wrinkled in confusion. Cats don’t talk, but if this cat isn’t Abirt, then what is it?

“I can tell you have quite a few questions, young lady,” the cat said, tilting its head as it spoke. “How about this: I’ll ask you a question, and you have to answer truthfully. You will then get to ask me a question, then I’ll ask you another, and so on. Sound good?”

Nelea nodded eagerly. Whatever this creature was, she wanted to know its story. The cat sat down next to her, staring off into the sunset as it spoke.

“I’ll start with a simple question. What is your name?”

“Nelea,” she replied easily.

“Nelea.” She paused for a moment. “Pleased to meet you, Nelea. You can call me Primrose."

“Prim…rose?” Nelea struggled with the unfamiliar pronunciation.

“It’s from another language, long forgotten by this world.”

“Forgotten? Are you from the Old World?” She blurted out, realizing too late that she had just asked her question.

“No, not quite,” Primrose replied. “I’m from another place. A place where the Old World never ended, and where Wonders are shared by all.”

“What do you mean?” Nelea didn’t know what was meant by “another place.”

“I believe it is my turn to ask a question, Nelea,” the cat replied, a hint of amusement in her tone. “What is life like here in Abirtleit for you?”

Nelea blinked, unsure of what to say. She understood what Primrose was asking, but nobody had ever thought to query Nelea about her feelings on life. Why would they? The gods gave each person their fate, and it was not their place to question what they could not change. But it had been asked, so she thought about it carefully.

“I think…” She began. “I think things are alright, but they could be better. Last year father was sick for weeks, but when a physician came from Kalefheit we couldn’t afford his medicine. And sometimes we’re hungry because our crops don’t have as much food as they should.”

“Goodness…” Primrose seemed shocked, and looked away from the sunset and back at Nelea. “Nelea, that is no way for anybody to live. And if I have anything to say about it, Abirtleit is going to see some changes soon.”

Changes? The statement was a perfect springboard for her next question. “Primrose, why are you here? What do you want with us?”

“That’s two questions, but I’ll allow it. Nelea, this is not the only Earth that exists. There are many different versions of this world - places where the way of things is different, so very different from what you know.”

Primrose produced a small circular object, seemingly out of thin air, and handed it to Nelea. “Eat this.”

The little girl examined it briefly, then did so. Within seconds, her pangs of hunger vanished. Her stomach was suddenly and inexplicably full, and she felt more nourished than she had in her entire life.

“That is what we call a food pill,” Primrose said. “In the world where I’m from, nobody ever wants for food and shelter. It is a land of endless abundance, one where the ‘Wonders’ you know of work with the ordinary people to create a beautiful place for us all to live in.”

Nelea’s eyes widened again, captivated by the story.

“I am here,” the cat continued, “to help you, and everyone else who lives in this world. What do you think of that?”

Nelea thought for a moment. “The gods won’t be happy that you are interfering in their plans. Mother said that the world was destroyed as punishment for the mistakes of those who came before us. And Abirt might stop protecting us if we become as rich as Kalefheit.”

“That is an excellent answer, Nelea,” Primrose replied, to the former’s surprise. “We have to be careful about how we help you. There’s plenty we can do to make your lives easier, but if we start giving you everything we have, you will become too much like us. What makes you different makes you special, and we don’t want to change that.”

The little calico jumped onto Nelea’s legs and stared directly at her.

“Now I have one more question. Can you keep a secret? We will help you soon, but before then, we must spend time watching you. I will be back to visit you again in one month, but until then, you must tell nobody you saw me. Do you think you can do that, Nelea?”

She nodded vigorously, knowing neither of her parents would believe her if she told this story anyways.

“Good.” Primrose jumped down again and walked over to the clothes Nelea had been washing. “How about I help you with these?”


“Nelea, what’s wrong?” Her mother asked sympathetically. “You washed our clothes as a cleaner from Kalefheit would. You deserve all of your food!”

“Sorry, mother,” she replied sheepishly, doing her best to get more of the meal into her very full belly. Even as she tried to eat, her mind raced with thoughts of the talking cat that promised to make their lives better.

I will keep your secret, Primrose, but please come back soon!

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